Why we (coaches, Vick, whoever) insist upon throwing 7 yard slants is beyond me. I personally blame this all on Knapp, every last bit of it.
Steve-O, you are right, this type of passing game is not Vick's strength. But truthfully, you can't be an NFL QB if you can't excel in this area. And that's the bottom line. A 7-yard slant is one of those "HIGH PERCENTAGE" passes that even "scrubs" like Detmer and Kittner can make. The skill involved in such passes is leading the receiver just enough so that he can catch it in stride and sprint for extra yards. That is what truly develops touch and timing, 2 essential skills to being a starting QB in the NFL. Now, some may believe that it takes greater skill to throw a 30-yard strike down the field, and you're probably right. But it's a skill very few possess, and trying to develop it is probably a dead end. Even watch the top downfield passers like Manning, McNabb, Culpepper, and Favre. In a good game, they may throw 1 pass beyond 25 or so yards that hits the receiver perfectly in stride. In a great game, they'll throw 2 of those passes. In an amazing game, they'll throw 3 or more. But in a normal game, they won't throw any. Most times when you see a QB throw a deep pass, the receiver makes an adjustment to the throw, by speeding up, slowing down, or changing direction. That is the nature of the deep ball in the NFL, the QB heaving it up and the receiver running under it.
I wholeheartedly agree with anyone that says the WCO does not fit Vick's skills. They are 200% correct on that one. An offense suited around Vick's skills will have a mobile pocket where Vick escapes the pocket and looks for the receivers on comeback routes or those that slip past the safety on a deep one. And you see how much of that has been implemented into the "traditional" WCO that Knapp employs. But that type of offense is so simple to stop. Simply send a player upfield quickly which will force Vick to change direction, usually into the path of the pursuit. There was a perfect example of it vs. the Seahawks early on, when MLB Lofa Tatupu saw Vick scrambling, ran up field as fast as he could, cutting off his outside route, which forced Vick to change direction and he was immediately tackled by a pursuing Seahawks DT. The Bucs have worked it to perfection over the past 3 years with Simeon Rice on the edge. It won't work every time, but I would 60-80% of the time, it will effectively neutralize the "Vick offense."
As I said earlier, I think Knapp and Vick work hand in hand in dismantling the potency of the Falcons offense. Knapp because of his conservative play-calling, and Vick because of his inablity to consistently complete passes.
I'm done blaming the receivers on this one fellas. I know our WRs aren't make always making the plays when they get the opportunites, but I also believe that Knapp and Vick for the above reasons aren't helping them get more opportunities to make up for it.
For lack of a better term, the Falcons offense has been one big clusterf@#k since 1998. And will continue to be until at least one among Vick and Knapp step up. And possibly until both players are long gone in Atlanta.